Heated words fly after immigration discussion

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A heated exchange broke out between a Texas lawmaker and a lawyer of Chinese-American descent following an immigration policy debate.

Harry Joe, who practices law with a Winstead law firm, called Republican Rep. Leo Berman of Tyler "despicable" and "evil" after Berman spoke Wednesday about his bill calling for illegal immigrants to relocate to "sanctuary cities. Berman responded by shouting "go home" and told Joe he could "kiss my (expletive)."

The argument was overheard by a news reporter and several spectators after a panel discussion at a conference on the University of Texas campus.

Joe later apologized for his remarks, but Berman declined to comment further.

"This was a private discussion, and I do not owe him an apology, not after what he said to me," he said.

Berman has helped author eight bills aimed at illegal immigrants, including provisions to challenge birthright citizenship, bar illegal immigrants from public universities and tax money sent between Texas and Latin America.

The exchange focused on a provision that would require all illegal immigrants to relocate to self-designated "sanctuary cities," where law officers are instructed not to ask people they encounter about their immigration status.

Berman said the bill was intended to "send a message" to cities across the state, a message that Joe called spiteful. Joe said that the proposal, which Berman said he recently withdrew, "looked like a bill the Nazis would have passed."


Information from The Dallas Morning News: http://www.dallasnews.com